Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Have you noticed?

Mountain Forest Stream, originally uploaded by bill.lepere.

My morning hikes on the paved road of Runyon Canyon aren't cutting it. I need nature, sans women in short shorts and bikini tops working on their tans while I huff up the hill, sweaty and red-faced.

I open my windows for blue sky and open Mary Oliver's book of poetry American Primitive, to be transported into nature. The poem GHOSTS begins with:

Have you noticed?

Where so many millions of powerful bawling beasts
lay down on the earth and died
it's hard to tell now
what's bone, and what merely
was once.

The golden eagle, for instance,
has a bit of heaviness in him;
moreover the huge barns
seem ready, sometimes, to ramble off
toward deeper grass.

I stopped reading with the thought that I am so removed from nature, I never see/stumble across where an animal has died. Roadkill doesn't count. This seems important to me tonight, the realization that so many animals die their natural death, and lie where they fall, unburied by those uncivilized animal family members of theirs. And I was not aware.

And it makes me aware that I live surrounded by cement. I remember summer drives through the mountain corridor on the way from the Willamette valley to the Oregon coast, and out of my windows were streams and uncharted hikes up fallen logs. I always wished a part of me would pull over and take off into the woods. I also wished a part of me had survival skills, or at least a sense of direction.

Mary Oliver ends her poem:

Once only, and then in a dream,
I watched while, secretly
and with the tenderness of any caring woman,
a cow gave birth
to a red calf, tongued him dry and nursed him
in a warm corner
of the clear night
in the fragrant grass
in the wild domains
of the prairie spring, and I asked them,
in my dream I knelt down and asked them
to make room for me.

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